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Wondering what to wear in Uruguay? Prepare for this under the radar celeb South American hot spot with these packing tips from an Uruguay fashionista!
What to Wear in Uruguay
Written By: Lola Méndez
Consider yourself in luck if you’re traveling to Uruguay!
It would be amiss to consider Uruguay a summer only destination. Fall and winter promise long leisurely days in the countryside and whale spotting at the beach.
Beach lovers will want to plan their vacation during the height of summer from December to February. Toward the end of summer, you’ll start to see carnival festivities in the capital city of Montevideo. Uruguay has the longest carnival celebration in the world! The party lasts at least 40 days but sometimes continues for up to three months.
This Uruguay packing list will help you prepare to spend days frolicking in the lush countryside or catch rays in the beautiful coastal towns. The country’s vibrant cities aren’t to be missed either, with rich history, architecture, and of course, shopping!
This guide has been compiled for you by an American Uruguayan who spent her childhood holidays in the iconic beach resort city Punta del Este. To inspire your trip, nearly all of the items here have been designed by Uruguayans and were produced in Uruguay or from Uruguayan materials. The only exception are the Havaianas flip-flops from neighboring Brazil.
What to Pack for Uruguay in the Spring and Summer
An Itsy Bitsy Bikini
Uruguay boasts a beautiful stretch of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean from Punta Del Este to Punta del Diablo. The beach town villagers embrace a truly laid back lifestyle, so you’ll want to break out your bohemian attire.
If you’re brave enough do as the locals do, then wear the tiniest bikini bottoms you can find. These are known in Uruguay as colaless. The thong style is more common on the beaches than any full coverage styles for women and sometimes men of all ages. There is even a playa near La Barra called Bikini Beach! This is also where some of the best surf break can be found in the country.
I love the swimwear collection La Belle Rebelle, which is designed by Uruguayans who embrace the colorful Latin American culture and bring it to life with their brand.
All you’ll need to cover up your teeny tiny bikini to enter the beach cafes and bars is a sarong tied around your hips into a skirt or knotted around the shoulders like a dress. I ditched heavy beach towels years ago for lightweight sarongs; towels take up too much precious space in your suitcase!
Trust me, no local will be seen dragging a bulky towel to the beach. The thin material of the sarong stays cool on hot sand while you sunbathe, easily whisks away water after a dip in the ocean, and dries quickly in the sun. Locally, these cover ups are called canga, a singsongy word that makes me want to dance!
As a bonus, your canga can double as a scarf, blanket, or pillow on your flight to Uruguay! There are so many different sarong styles but this sophisticated floral one from Uruguayan boutique Daniel Cassin is my favorite.
To complete your beach look, you’ll need your favorite pair of Havaianas made in Uruguay’s friendly northern neighbor, Brazil. These sandals have gotten more and more expensive stateside (the pair above are $36), but they are durable, comfortable, and stylish.
You’ll only need to pack one pair as you’ll be able to add to your Havaianas collection while you’re in Uruguay–you can buy them for a fraction of the price! My trusted Havaianas have lasted me for an entire decade!
All the trendy girls will be wearing the most up-to-date styles from the exclusive collection. I prefer neutral pairs that can be matched with any outfit but I can’t resist the little sparkle in this pair that’s adorned with a single white Swarovski crystal.
With your bikini, sarong, and thong sandals, you’ll be dressed for the perfect beach day–just don’t forget your SPF and lots of water!
This chill attire is perfectly acceptable to wear as the sun sets and the beach cafes transform into beach discotecas. Toss the flip-flops aside, tie the sarong around your waist, and dance the night away barefoot in the sand with your new amigos!
The first thing you must pack when heading to a tropical destination is a great pair of shades! (At least, this is my rule after heading to Greece without sunglasses and buying the ugliest pair imaginable in the airport.)
Indie is an awesome sustainable Uruguayan eyewear company that incorporates local timber in their designs. How cool are these shades?
While I promise you’ll spend the majority of your travels clad in a bikini, you will want a versatile top to wear with the jeans you packed for days off of the sand. Luckily for you, the universally flattering off-the-shoulder trend is in full force in Uruguay.
I love this versatile version from local Uruguayan boutique Lolita–the elastic neckline means you can play with the shirt to wear it on the shoulder, off both shoulders, or just off of one.
You could wear a traditional straw hat to the beach to protect your face, but to make fast friends in Uruguay, wear anything supporting the national soccer team. Here are some quick facts to impress an Uruguayan who approaches you while you’re wearing this hat:
The very first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930, and they won! Soy Celeste and Garra Charrua are typical cheers for the team. Some of the top soccer players in the world right now are from Uruguay: Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Ed Cavani (Paris), and Diego Godin (Athletico Madrid).
For days when you don’t want to wear flip-flops, you’ll want a pair of the go-to footwear of all Uruguayas: espadrilles! These classic shoes are chic and comfy with their rope bottoms, rubber soles, and canvas top. They look great with everything from jeans to sundresses. I love this platform pair from Uruguayan brand VDAMANI.
If you’re in Uruguay for New Year’s Eve, you absolutely must spend it in Punta Del Este, the most popular vacation spot in Uruguay. The peninsula is a place to see and be seen among an international elite crowd.
Here is where you’ll start to see the strong European influence in Uruguay, especially in fashion. Stylish Latin Americans flock here to celebrate and ring in the new year. Crowds line the beaches and streets wearing head to toe white to kick off the year.
Expect dancing in the street, flowing champagne, drums playing Candombe music, and fireworks erupting down the shoreline. This frock from Lolita is perfect for dancing and can be repurposed throughout your trip as a coverup or dinner dress!
What to Pack for Uruguay in the Fall and Winter
Being a small country, no matter where you are in Uruguay, you’re always only a few hours away from the beach, city, or countryside.
The Uruguayan countryside spans more than 39 million acres with countless farms, 12 million cattle, and 12 million sheep. With a population of three million, there are four cows and four sheep for each person!
Recognized worldwide for agriculture and cattle-ranching, Uruguay produces some of the most luxurious wool and leather on the planet. While you’re visiting the country, you can embrace the gaucho cowboy culture, attend a rodeo, and listen to traditional folk music.
You’ll want to bring your favorite jeans that are comfortable enough for days roaming eco-friendly farms, riding horses, and exploring old fortresses.
After all that exploring, you’ll likely find yourself at the table of a local Uruguayan family being offered an incredible farm to table meal. (No judgment if you unbutton your jeans a bit!)
I love this light denim pair from Uruguayan boutique Daniel Cassin. They’re lovingly called Celeste which refers to Uruguay’s shade of light blue and is also the nickname for the national futbol team!
With a history rooted in gaucho culture, a quality pair of leather boots are crucial for any Uruguayan adventure. Uruguayan leathers come from sustainable farms that use traditional methods and raise cattle in natural conditions of pen air fields, fertile land, and abundant fresh water rivers and streams.
Conscious consumerism and shopping is important to me as a traveler. Above are my favorite pair of booties! This timeless style is enhanced with mohair and will certainly become a wardrobe staple. As a bonus: these beauties were designed and manufactured in Uruguay with local leathers!
You’re going to need a great all-purpose bag to carry with you as you explore all that Uruguay has to offer. This roomy leather backpack from one of Uruguay’s most popular brands, MUTMA, is darling and roomy.
This bag can easily double as your carry on for the flight and store snacks, ear plugs, and an eye mask to make your trip more pleasant.
Evenings in Uruguay can get chilly any time during the year, but even in the coldest months it’s never too cold. Uruguayans are very proud of their leather goods so they won’t miss a chance to show off their unique pieces.
This cream colored option from Uruguayan leather designer Crina is my favorite. The cut is modern with a cinched waist and collarless neckline. The cargo-style pockets with crochet details add flair that will enhance any outfit. If you want to be extra chic, just unzip the jacket and throw it over your shoulders like a shawl.
Ponchos were traditionally worn by gauchos and are enjoying a comeback among stylish Uruguayans with modern interpretations of the cozy design. This simple garment is a must-pack for your suitcase as it can keep you warm and cozy on bus rides and double as a snuggly blanket while stargazing on the beach.
Handmade and organic Uruguayan collection Texturable has a lightweight merino wool cape style poncho that is extra awesome with a hood! The ombre is hand-dyed with natural pigments and available in 12 different shades.
Uruguayans swear by the power of the local gemstone, amethyst. The town of Artigas is one of the largest producers of Amethyst in the world with an abundance of natural crystals.
My Uruguayan father gave me and my sister amethyst jewelry that we never take off. These talismans protect us with their healing powers that alleviate physical ailments, balance the crown chakra, and help us maintain a sense of calm.
What are your tips on what to wear in Uruguay? Share in the comments below!
For more South America packing lists, please read:
Suggested travel resources:
- Lonely Planet South America on a shoestring
- Lonely Planet Argentina: Uruguay & Paraguay (Travel Guide)
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Author Bio: Lola Méndez is a full-time traveler sharing her adventures on Miss Filatelista as she collections passport stamps. She travels to develop her own worldview and has explored 45 countries. Passionate about sustainable travel, she seeks out ethical experiences that benefit local communities. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.